About Us

Our Mission

“The Uptown Jazz Orchestra fills every inch of the room with a joyous noise.” – Michael Elliott, PopMatters

Uptown Jazz Orchestra’s mission is to promote the rich cultural legacy of American music through both entertaining and educational performances. Our educational shows are designed to give young people a greater awareness of important historical figures and musical traditions. All other shows are designed specifically with the intent of folks having a good time … hands clapping, toes tapping and rump shaking!

“The UJO sound [combines] the dance-first sensibility of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band crossed with Count Basie’s early riff bands and post-1952 ‘New Testament’ orchestras [and] the sophisticated dialects of Ellington, Mingus, Coltrane and Kenny Kirkland.” – Ted Panken, DownBeat

In 2007, NEA Jazz Master and Grammy Award winning trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis formed the Uptown Jazz Orchestra (UJO) for the purpose of keeping important jazz music traditions alive; such as riff-playing, spontaneous group improvisations, and collective New Orleans instrumental polyphony. At the time, Marsalis realized that the New Orleans music community was lacking the infusion of young homegrown talent outside of the great brass band tradition, and chose to form an orchestra that could present traditional, classic, and modern compositions with authenticity. Since that time, UJO has grown into one of the premier large ensembles in the world, releasing three CDs to critical acclaim, and touring locally, nationally, and internationally.

"Delfeayo is, in many ways, the most fun of the Marsalises." – The Buffalo News

In 2008, Marsalis founded the educational program, “Swinging with the Cool School” (a soft introduction to jazz for hip tots and adults), which was used as an experimental form of music therapy at the New Orleans Children Hospital. The Cool School has since expanded to introduce live instrumental jazz to students around the country, with the intent of helping young people develop a relationship with music that has gradually disappeared from mainstream radio and media at large. Through these performances, UJO is able to introduce students (and adults) to the wide emotional range of instrumental music.

Since 2021, UJO has produced the annual Jazz at Congo Square Festival (JACS) to celebrate New Orleans culture by presenting live performances of musicians, poets, dancers, and Black Masking Indians to local and visiting audiences. JACS Festival also features local food, arts & craft vendors. Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra plan to continue using the great legacy of American music to engage and hopefully inspire the younger generations for many years.

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